ENGLAND'S ORANGE GOBLIN is hardly a household name. Ask anyone to list the ultimate English stoner/metal/doom/heavy-rocking-blues bands and more often then not you'll hear the names Cathedral and Electric Wizard first (granted, Cathedral was first, but Orange Goblin and Electric Wizard surfaced around the same time). It's a bit of a tragedy that Orange Goblin has been the quintessential underground band of an underground genre, especially considering the band's 15-year run, their half-dozen solid recordings, plus constant tours throughout Europe, Japan, and the States.
For Ben Ward, Orange Goblin's grave frontman, it's no bother. He takes the absence of framed platinum records on his walls in stride. "We had a spell, possibly 10 years ago, when we were in the limelight a bit more. Things come and go." He continues, "We know that we're never going to be selling the amount of albums that 'N Sync or Lady Gaga are selling, but at least we know we've got our dignity intact."
Yet it's still a mystery why Orange Goblin hasn't been more of a mogul in their respective scene. The band hasn't stumbled one bit since the release of their debut full-length, 1997's Frequencies from Planet Ten. All six of their albums are as heavy as a pod of whales, complete with their extra bluesy Black Sabbath riffs, a hard-groovin' ZZ Top aesthetic, and lyrics, themes, and album art seemingly inspired by acid, Aldous Huxley, and biker magazines—so it seemed like Orange Goblin had the perfect formula. For them, there were never any failed flirtations with modern styles or slick production values, and aside from the occasional trips of psychedelia or incorporation of female back-up singers, the British band has remained gruff and fuzzy, with feet cemented to their wah-wah pedals.
While the general public may have missed the boat with Orange Goblin, at least some younger bands currently in the spotlight have credited them as an influence. "When they first came around, bands like Baroness and Kylesa openly admitted they were big fans of Orange Goblin," says Ward. "We've been lucky enough to meet these people and hang out with them too. It's a really good genre of music for people to bond." If the new generation can't bring some of their own fans around to the Goblin legacy, maybe the new Rise Above (the reputable label founded by Lee Dorrian of Cathedral) reissues of the band's back catalog will help.
There has also been a seventh Orange Goblin album in the works for nearly three years now, although its production has been wrought with delays, personal conflicts, and various other rumors. (Ward confides that the setbacks are just that, and that the album will see the light of day). Even if it seems that everyday reality is finally catching up with the band, Ward feels that Orange Goblin has experienced nothing but success and he has no misgivings or regrets about what they've accomplished.
"I think when we're in our 60s and we look back on our career we may not have had the global success that a lot of people have had, but we can have pride in knowing we've done things the right way," Ward says. "[We] toured our asses off, never conformed to anything to make a few sales, and we worked hard playing music from our hearts."